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By Ralph Stuart
Photograph by Chris Siefken
As upland hunters get older, many switch to smaller gauges. The reason: With age comes experience. Big bores and heavy loads that once seemed so important are replaced with smaller bores and lighter loads that are just as effective in the hands of skilled shooters. Not only that, but also smallbore guns tend to weigh less, making for easier carry up hills that seem to get steeper with time. The Orvis Company knows bird hunters and offers shotguns to suit. Its line of Classic side-by-sides is from French maker Chapuis Armes and is just right for hunters who have earned an appreciation for fine game guns. Though Orvis does offer these guns in 12 gauge and 20, we felt that a 28 seemed appropriate for the grouse coverts this past fall.
As suspected, the Orvis Chapuis Classic, with its rounded action, svelte lines and light weight (5 pounds 7 ounces on our digital scale), was a pleasure to tote in the uplands. The gun was nicely balanced at the hinge pin and pointed well. As so often happens with grouse hunting, however, we did a lot more walking than shooting; so to thoroughly test the gun we took it to the range. There we fired several boxes of 1-oz Rio Royal Pheasant No. 5s and B&P Upland Game No. 7½s. The gun performed flawlessly—other than the ejectors not liking the B&P shells, which had taller brass and tended to stick in the chambers—and we enjoyed smashing plenty of clays. We also enjoyed fielding compliments from other shooters admiring the gun.
Bottom line: The Chapuis Classic would make a fine piece for a skilled hunter who enjoys putting on miles and making every shot count. Price: $4,795 ($4,595 for the 12- and 20-gauge).